Sunday, January 13, 2019
Rockin' in the Days of Confusion # 1903 (starts 1/14/19)
This week we do a bit of cherry picking from past shows, resulting in an episode of Rockin' in the Days of Confusion that flat out rocks.
Title: Green-Eyed Lady
Source: LP: Sugarloaf
The unwritten rules of radio, particularly those concerning song length, were in transition in 1970. Take Sugarloaf's Green-Eyed Lady, for example. When first released as a single the 45 was virtually identical to the album version except that it faded out just short of the six-minute mark. This was about twice the allowed length under the old rules and it was soon replaced with an edited version that left out all the instrumental solos, coming in at just under three minutes. The label soon realized, however, that part of the original song's appeal (as heard on FM rock radio) was its organ solo, and a third single edit with that solo restored became the final, and most popular, version of Green-Eyed Lady. Meanwhile, though all of this, FM rock jocks continued to play the original album version heard here. Smart move on their part.
Artist: Black Sabbath
Title: Wasp/Behind The Wall Of Sleep/Bassically/N.I.B.
Source: CD: Black Sabbath
Label: Warner Brothers/Rhino
While feedback-laden bands like Blue Cheer are often credited with laying the foundations of what would come to be called heavy metal, Black Sabbath is generally considered to be the first actual heavy metal band. Tony Iommi, Ozzy Osbourne, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward didn't set out to create a whole new genre. They simply wanted to be the heaviest blues-rock band around. After seeing a movie marquee for an old Boris Karloff film called Black Sabbath and deciding that would make a good name for a band, however, the group soon began modifying their sound to more closely match their new name. The result was a debut album that would change the face of rock music forever. Probably the best known track on the Black Sabbath album is N.I.B., which closes out the LP's first side. Contrary to popular belief, N.I.B. is not a set of initials at all, but just the word nib done in capital letters with periods after each letter. According to Geezer Butler, who wrote the lyrics for N.I.B. "Originally it was Nib, which was Bill's beard. When I wrote N.I.B., I couldn't think of a title for the song, so I just called it Nib, after Bill's beard. To make it more intriguing I put punctuation marks in there to make it N.I.B. By the time it got to America, they translated it to Nativity In Black." On the album the song is preceded by a short bass solo from Butler, which in turn segues directly out of the previous track, Behind The Wall Of Sleep. For some reason (possibly to garner the group more royalties) Warner Brothers Records added extra song titles to the two tracks on the album cover and label to make them look like four separate pieces. The original British release, however, lists them as Behind The Wall Of Sleep and N.I.B.
Artist: Neil Young
Title: When You Dance I Can Really Love
Source: CD: After The Gold Rush
Writer(s): Neil Young
Neil Young's first solo LP, released in 1968, was made up mostly of acoustic pieces, showcasing his songwriting abilities. His second LP, with Crazy Horse, emphasized Young's rockier side, with classics like Cinnamon Girl, Cowgirl In The Sand and Down By The River. His third release, After The Gold Rush, attempted to strike a balance between the two. Probably the hardest-rocking tune of the album was When You Dance I Can Really Love, which was also released as a single, barely scraping the bottom reaches of the Hot 100. For some unknown reason, when After The Gold Rush was first issued on CD, the song was mistitled When You Dance You Can Really Love on the back cover, in the booklet and on the disc itself.
Artist: Crosby, Stills And Nash
Title: Wooden Ships
Source: CD: Crosby, Stills And Nash
Among the various legendary characters on the late 60s San Francisco music scene, none is more reviled than Matthew Katz. His mistreatment of It's A Beautiful Day is legendary. Just about every band he managed was desperate to get out of their contract with him, including Moby Grape and Jefferson Airplane. In fact, it was because of the Airplane's fight to get out from under Katz's thumb that Paul Kantner did not get a writing credit for Wooden Ships on the first Crosby, Stills and Nash album. David Crosby had this to say on the matter: "Paul called me up and said that he was having this major duke-out with this horrible guy who was managing the band, and he was freezing everything their names were on. 'He might injunct the release of your record,' he told me. So we didn’t put Paul’s name on it for a while. In later versions, we made it very certain that he wrote it with us. Of course, we evened things up with him with a whole mess of cash when the record went huge." Although Jefferson Airplane eventually won their battle with Katz, others weren't so fortunate. Katz's San Francisco Sound still owns the rights to recordings by Moby Grape and It's A Beautiful Day, which explains why it's so hard to find quality copies of those recordings these days. Anyone want to take a guess how much the surviving members of those bands receive in royalties from the CD reissues of their albums? (Hint: at least one member of Moby Grape was known to have been living under a bridge at one point).
Title: We Are Heaven/South Side Of The Sky
Source: CD: Fragile
The fourth Yes album, Fragile, introduced the "classic" Yes lineup of John Anderson (vocals), Bill Bruford (drums), Steve Howe (guitar), Chris Squire (bass) and Rick Wakemen (keyboards), and features some of the band's best known songs. Four of the album's songs, including South Side Of The Sky, feature the entire band, while the remaining five tracks were contributed by the individual members. We Have Heaven, a multi-tracked Anderson solo piece, leads directly into South Side Of The Sky, and has a lyrical connection to the longer piece, as both songs address matters of mortality. South Side, according to new liner notes, is about a polar expedition that ends with the death of the entire party, with somewhat metaphorical references to mountain climbing as well. Anderson says the inspiration for the song's lyrics came from an article he read in which sleep was referred to as Death's little sister (of course Neil Gaiman fans know that Sleep is actually Death's little brother, not sister). Although the song is credited to Anderson and Squire, the basic guitar riff actually came from a composition played by Howe's previous band, Bodast, while the repeating piano arpeggio in the middle of the piece was provided by Wakeman.
Artist: Blues Image
Title: Take Me To The Sunrise
Source: LP: Blues Image
Writer(s): Blues Image
Formed in Tampa, Florida, in 1966, Blues Image originally consisted of singer-guitarist Mike Pinera, singer-drummer Manuel "Manny" Bertematti, singer-percussionist Joe Lala, keyboardist Emilio Garcia, and bassist Malcolm Jones. They were later joined by keyboardist Frank "Skip" Konte when Emilio Garcia left the band to become a pilot. The band relocated to Miami in 1968, where they became the house band at the legendary club Thee Image. While performing at Thee Image, the members of Blues Image became friends with members of several bands that played there, including Cream, Jimi Hendrix, and the Grateful Dead. It was Hendrix that convinced them that a move to Los Angeles would be to their benefit, and sure enough the Blues Image landed a contract with Atco shortly after their arrival there. Their debut album, which starts off with the track Take Me To The Sunrise, was released in February of 1969. After two more albums and one hit single (Ride Captain Ride), Blues Image split up in 1970, although several of the band's members stayed active for many years. Joe Lala, for instance, got into acting, and was a regular on TV's Miami Vice.
Title: Walking The Dog
Source: CD: Aerosmith
Writer(s): Rufus Thomas
The last track on Aerosmith's eponymous debut LP is a cover of Rufus Thomas's biggest hit, Walking The Dog. Probably not coincidentally, the song was also covered by Aerosmith's idols, the Rolling Stones, on their own debut album.
Artist: Wishbone Ash
Title: Blind Eye
Source: Stereo 45 RPM single
Writer(s): Wishbone Ash
One of the first bands to feature two lead guitarists working in tandem, Wishbone Ash rose to fame as the opening act for Deep Purple in early 1970. After guitarist Andy Powell sat in with Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore during a sound check, Blackmore referred Wishbone Ash to MCA, the parent company of the US Decca label. The band's first LP came out in December of 1970, with Blind Eye becoming the band's first single. Although Wishbone Ash went on to become one of Britain's top rock bands of the 1970s, they were never as successful in the US, despite relocating to the states in 1973.
Title: Busy Day
Source: 45 RPM single B side
Writer(s): Larry Weigand
Crow started off as a Minneapolis band called South 40, a name they used until they began releasing records nationally in 1969. Their first LP, Crow Music, was released in 1969 and did fairly well on the charts, thanks in large part to the success of the song Evil Woman (Don't Play Your Games With Me), which made the top 20. The follow-up single, Cottage Cheese, was released in advance of their second album, Crow By Crow, in 1970. As no other tracks from that LP were available for the B side, a tune from Crow Music, Busy Day, that had been originally issued as the band's first single in 1969, was included instead. The song was written by bassist Larry Weigand, who had been listed as co-writer on both A sides.
Artist: Grand Funk Railroad
Title: Please Don't Worry
Source: CD: Grand Funk
Grand Funk Railroad bridged the gap from garage rock to heavy metal, almost single-handedly creating arena rock in the process. Their sound was as raw and unpolished as any garage band (at least at first) and the rock press universally detested them. Nonetheless, Mark Farner, Mel Schacher and Don Brewer struck a (power) chord with the concertgoing/record-buying public and was the first band to consistently play to sellout crowds at large-scale venues such as sports arenas. Grand Funk played loud; so loud, in fact, that it was impossible to hear anything but the band itself when they were playing (even your own screaming). Please Don't Worry, from Grand Funk Railroad's self-title second album (often referred to as the red album), is as typical an early Grand Funk song as you're going to find, with its driving power chords and screaming lead guitar solo and Mark Farner's distinctive barely-on-key vocals.
Title: A Hole To Hide In
Source: LP: Foghat (also released as 45 RPM single B side)
When commercially recorded music first became available for public consumption there were two methods of delivery: disc records and cylinder records. Cylinder records, invented by Thomas Edison, were the first to hit the market, and were the main consumer format from the late 1880s until around 1910, when the disc format overtook cylinders in total sales. Edison's cylinders held one song apiece, which made it easy to measure the popularity of individual songs. Discs, however, were usually two-sided, with both songs on a record getting equal consideration. It wasn't until the 1950s that record companies began promoting one side (the A side) of a record over the other. This was mostly a result of general entertainment programs migrating from radio to TV, forcing radio stations to rely more on recorded music, which in turn led to the rise of top 40 radio. With the competition for airplay getting more intense as more records got made, B sides, as a general rule, were ignored by radio programmers, although there were exceptions, most notably on singles by Elvis Presley and the Beatles. In the late 1960s, however, a new kind of radio station began to appear on the previously neglected FM band. These "underground" stations were not being run for profit (indeed, many were being used as a tax writeoff) and thus were more inclined to play B sides and album tracks. This trend continued into the mid-1970s, when FM became available to a larger number of consumers, and stations began to compete directly with their AM counterparts. These days, of course, there are no B sides, since most new music is available as downloads from the internet, one song at a time. Still, in the golden age of FM rock radio we got to hear songs like A Hole To Hide In, which was both an album track and the B side of Foghat's first hit, I Just Want To Make Love To You.